Fort St. James Gets Back To Roots With Revitalized Downtown

Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce

2012- New paint, intricate brick, stone work, and fresh woodwork are in evidence up and down the community's main streets as this downtown revitalization project has continued to brighten up the Fort St. James business district.  Under this project, the Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce has implemented a Downtown Revitalization Strategy that focuses on improving the appearance of the community's downtown core through a program of financial incentives to encourage the improvement of existing buildings in the community.

This is a strategic first step as part of the larger 'Embracing Our Roots' initiative being led by the Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce to revitalize the town's downtown and to provide downtown shopping opportunities for tourists who visit the community to see the Fort St. James National Historic Site. The Embracing Our Roots program provides incentives for downtown businesses to upgrade their buildings and also provides training and development for busineses to improve their marketability. In addition, a landscaping plan has included site development for feature points, improve signage both for entry and internal wayfinding. A heritage walk is also now introducing visitors to the rich, diverse history of Fort St. James while encouraging visitors to support downtown businesses.

In 2011, the community held a celebration event for this three-year project, announcing that exterior upgrades had already been completed on twenty different buildings throughout Fort St. James' downtown. Also completed was the installation of an electronic notice board to advertise local community events, signage to direct people into town and a number of landscaping blocks along downtown walkways.

"Our project was kicked off right in the middle of the economic downturn. Fort St. James was hit hard, with several hundred people out of work and two out of our four local mills shut down. But our Embracing Our Roots Downtown Revitalization Project employed local contractors and helped to restore a new sense of civic pride for the community."

Laura Chernowski, Director, Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce

Positive Economic Impacts in Fort St. James

To date, this project has created over thirty-five seasonal jobs in Fort St. James. In addition, this project is actively supporting local businesses and downtown revitalization within the community, increasing tourism traffic within the downtown, and attracting new capital investment to the community.

Many of the community's most prominent businesses have seen improvements as a result of the downtown revitalization and are benefitting from increased tourist numbers brought into the community because of these changes, combined with the growth in the local primary industries.